as a family doctor, i've seen the terrible impact of a premature birth. losing a baby is one of the hardest things a family can go through. as surgeon general, i see the toll that premature births have on our nation. it can cause lifelong disabilities, it is the leading cause of death in newborns, and our country has one of the highest rates of preterm birth in the world. we must do better. hospitals need to ensure that babies are delivered early only when medically necessary. we need research to find the causes of premature birth and research to find new ways to prevent it.